O’Malley (D) would have options. He could commute all or some of the death sentences to life without parole; he could issue an executive order staying all death warrants; he could do nothing and leave the inmates in the hands of future governors. At a hearing this month, O’Malley told lawmakers that he would “decide each of those cases as they ripen.”
Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said the average time between sentencing and execution is 15 years. Thirty years is rare.
“It’s time to just say enough is enough,” said Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions. “The problem with the death penalty is it’s a Catch-22. Everything you do to make it fairer is only going to make the process longer and more torturous for the very people we say we do it for.”
Catherine Kennedy said she thinks the waiting led to an early death for her brother, John Kennedy, who lost daughter Susan in the motel shooting and had to watch daughter Cheryl endure the court proceedings and appeals for Evans and Grandison.
“My brother could not forgive them, and his life just faded away,” Kennedy, 74, said. “I think my brother would very much have liked to be the executioner.”
Kennedy said some of her relatives would still like to see Evans and Grandison executed and that at one point she would have joined her brother, a police sergeant, in performing the task. But she now teaches the Bible and said her view has changed.
She thinks the men are evil. “And I want God to get rid of evil,” she said. “However, I don’t think he gave me that power.”
John Kennedy, 59, died of cancer in 1998. Cheryl, 38, died the same year of a congenital defect that limited blood flow to her brain.
Evans and Grandison “destroyed my brother’s family,” Kennedy said. “My brother was one of the best men on the face of the Earth. He was good, loving, gentle.
“I think had my brother murdered [Evans and Grandison],” she said, “God would have forgiven him.”
After the trial, Irwin find out that John Kennedy was never searched at the courthouse and sat in court with his police-issued firearm at his side. Irwin said he has since questioned the restraint it must have taken for Kennedy to leave the fate of Grandison and Evans to the justice system.
“He believed in the system and the system didn’t work for him,” Irwin said. “I wonder what he would have done if he’d known he would die before they did.”
John Wagner and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.